Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Avengers Fan Building Enormous, Life-Size 3D Printed Iron Man Hulkbuster Suit

ST Medical Devices

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james brutonJames Bruton has more than just enthusiasm for the Iron Man movie franchise and a love for Marvel Comics. He has a complex working knowledge of the suits worn by Tony Stark, and now this enthusiastic designer and 3D printing hobbyist is designing his own suit: that of the Iron Man Hulkbuster Suit, inspired by the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, due out soon.

Shooting for masterful effect with dramatic design, size, and use of progressive technology, Bruton’s goal is to create a free-standing costume that allows you to actually climb into it and wear it and ‘steer it about.’ This is no small feat — and no minor example of cosplay. Bruton breaks his project down into many, many steps and it’s been a project spanning multiple months of commitment to the Avengers: Age of Ultron Hulkbuster 3D printed masterpiece.

With two 3D printers going simultaneously, working to produce parts in multiple installations (and instructional videos), he’s created an organized frame for the suit thanks to his mastery of CAD design and impressive handling of tricky 3D printing. Bruton built out the initial concept and design with several beginning 3D printed pieces and then a model with segmented cardboard parts that he was able to remove one by one with the production of each 3D printed permanent piece. It’s quite impressive to see his suit coming to fruition in a display of design, color, and organization as he presents a library of videos performing the build.

Bruton employed the 3D printer for making parts that would adhere to the hands, allowing them to remain lightweight. Printed in nylon, and painted with red automotive paint, the parts allow for cords to manipulate the fingers. He also 3D printed a mounting part, the repulsor piece, to connect the hand to the forearm, as well as 3D printed brackets with pulleys to manipulate the fingers. The upper part of the Hulkbuster will culminate in a whole that encompasses — and functions — through a number of supports, hinges, pulleys, motors, and springs.

The chest plate, while not as complex to create as the rest of the piece, draws the eye as it is central to the design, colorfully painted in red, and made in combination of 3D printed pieces and sheet metal.

torso with unibeam

Torso, in progress

Going from the design concept and initial sketches, the object of the Hulkbuster was to incorporate:

  • Locked joints, offering a freestanding costume to climb into
  • Easy manipulation for the user to walk in the costume
  • Toes with hinges and springs so natural walking gait is possible
  • Suspension and tethering of arms for natural appearanceave
  • Hinged body panels to enclose the user

Bruton’s goal is to ensure that the suit is actually wearable and moveable. Functional. And big! The wearer of the Hulkbuster will be encased in an enormous costume 3D printed with electronics incorporated to operate the lower portions of the arms, including use of a joystick. Not to be neglected, aesthetics are also a large part of the design, with a variety of ornamental textures.

And while the overall concept, design, and ability to make a real working, walking costume are amazing, Bruton has extremely challenging ideas for the internal, electronic workings of the Hulkbuster, to include:

  • A wi-fi hotspot emanating from the suit
  • Control by tablet and or mobile app both externally and internally so user can open panels and enjoy remote control
  • Joystick to manipulate arms and hands

What makes the suit even more impressive is that Bruton has been making the design up as he’s been going along, basically building the piece from the bottom up. Many of the pieces are constructed from plywood, with supporting pieces 3D printed, like the thigh, “hinged around a pair of 3D printed bearing blocks.” Bolts are used to lock the joints in position. Bruton, so far, has performed a substantial amount of 3D printing for the pieces that form the framework of the thighs and lower body.

Some manipulations, refinements, and redesign were required to get the size of the suit just right, as Bruton found some of the dimensions to be off at first, which sent him briefly back to the drawing board. The piece, with 3D printed parts and panels covering quite an inner system of complex workings, is still a work in progress as the back of the suit is still completely open and will need to be covered with panels that operate remotely. The legs are still being finished, with some large portions of the thighs still to be completed. He’ll be finishing the sides of the shoulders, to allow for the helmet to work, and the backs of the thighs and back of the torso still need further work to incorporate opening panels.

As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, and super heroes fight to save the planet, we’ll hope Bruton puts out another progress report soon. Have you been following Bruton’s work? Are you interested in combining cosplay and 3D printing? Tell us about it in the 3D Printed Hulkbuster Suit forum over at

hands and forearms

Hands and forearms


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